Version Reviewed: 1.2
App Reviewed on: iPad 2
Graphics / Sound Rating:
Replay Value Rating:
Sometimes the smallest tweaks are all it takes to make a worn-out idea seem a bit fresher than it used to be. And while I don’t want to say that Elfcraft is going to revolutionize the Match-3 puzzle genre (it won’t) or that the changes make it so addictive that you won’t be able to put it down (again, not true either), sometimes it’s nice to just look at those little additions, smile, and enjoy.
Taking cues from games like Triple Town, Elfcraft deals with distillation and reduction. Matching three or more like tiles of an element condenses them down to a single tile of a more valuable element. Eventually, space becomes an issue as the playing field rapidly fills up and players scramble to hurriedly smash matched elements into more compact forms. Thankfully, unlike Triple Town, there are no moving obstacles (like that game’s bears) to contend with. But it also lacks similar cute conceits like the “town building” skin wrapping the whole experience together. Instead, we get a pleasant enough, but still rather pedestrian playing field to deal with.
Where the gameplay changes up a bit is in Elfcraft’s use of tilt controls. By tipping the device left or right, players can slide their stacks of tiles to those respective sides of the playing field. Unfortunately, this is pretty much an all-or-nothing proposition, as there’s no way (that I could determine, at least) to stop somewhere in-between, but just this small addition opens up a lot of new strategic gameplay decisions. Also, it can come in extra handy in those situations where things are starting to look bleak as the board begins to fill: just a couple of tilts and one is very likely to find a couple of unexpected matches crop up that can clear some more precious space.
As it stands, Elfcraft doesn’t offer any additional game modes or tweaks that will hold one’s attention for too much time. However, it’s free and enjoyable enough for however long you decide to let it grace the memory of your device of choice. Still, its a pretty safe bet that it won’t have a lifespan anywhere close to that of the fabled elves of lore.